WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reaffirmed his commitment to Donald Trump’s administration, after an incendiary news report asserted he had referred to the president as a "moron."
In an unusual announcement at the State Department on October 4, Tillerson said that he has never considered resigning from the Trump administration.
"My commitment to the success of our president and our country is as strong as it was the day I accepted his offer to serve," he said.
"There has never been a consideration in my mind to leave. I serve at the appointment of the president and I am here for as long as the president feels I can be useful to achieving his objectives," he added.
For his part, Trump told reporters in Las Vegas that he has "total confidence" in his top diplomat.
There have been rumors in Washington for months that Tillerson, the former CEO of oil giant Exxon Mobil, was frustrated with Trump administration policies on a range of domestic and international issues.
Earlier on October 4, NBC News reported that Tillerson, during a meeting at the Pentagon with cabinet officials, had disparaged Trump, insulting him by calling him a “moron.”
Tillerson did not refute that report when asked by reporters about it, but he decried what he called the "petty nonsense" of leaked comments that are commonplace in Washington.
The NBC News report also cited comments from Tillerson's spokesman R.C. Hammond, suggesting doubts at the State Department and the White House about Nikki Haley, the outspoken U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Following Tillerson’s statement, Hammond sent out several apologetic posts to his Twitter account, endorsing Haley.